Microsoft Poised to Name New Boss

by Matt Klassen on February 3, 2014

As anyone who has been involved in a leadership search knows, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. In fact, while companies ideally would like to find the best candidate for the position, they often find that their dreams don’t match reality, and that despite their best efforts, sometimes the choice is made for them. So it seems to be going for Microsoft in its search to replace long time CEO Steve Ballmer, as following the breakdown in talks with the person who seemed to be the companies number one choice, Microsoft has been forced to look down its shortlist for someone else to who fits the bill.

According to Bloomberg, with Ford CEO Alan Mulally withdrawing his name from consideration Microsoft is poised to make its cloud and enterprise boss Satya Nadella the company’s new CEO, with the two sides currently working to hammer out an agreement.

With Microsoft seemingly unable to get its man, one has to wonder if Nadella is a step down from Mulally or some of the other strong candidates, and if the choice was made to hire from within simply because the company is once again hesitant to shake up the status quo.

There’s no question that Microsoft had a CEO wish list, wanting first and foremost a strong leader with the ability to rejuvenate Microsoft and reverse its flagging fortunes. Ford’s Mulally was clearly the first choice in this matter, credited with almost singlehandedly turning around the American automaker. But a future with Microsoft wasn’t to be, and so the search eventually landed on Nadella, who is considered a strong candidate in his own right.

But the pressing question is, while Nadella is clearly the ‘leading’ choice in Microsoft’s CEO search, is he the ‘best’ choice? As Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, explained to the E-Commerce Times, it might have been fortuitous that the search landed on Nadella.

“Microsoft is actually performing well financially — they just are showing weakness in some of the divisions,” Enderle explained, “In that case, bringing someone in from the outside risks breaking more than you fix — and if you pull from the inside and don’t pull a high performer, you will lose them and likely lose the performance in that unit as well,” he explained.

“Ideally, you want to move your best-performing leaders up, and you bet their execution competence can be spread. Any other choice leaves you with greater exposures and a higher probability of a decline. Thus, the choice Microsoft made was pretty much by the book. Using best practices,” Enderle concluded, “Satya was the best choice.”

Simply put, unwilling to risk bringing in someone from the outside, Microsoft is doing what it has always done, working to maintain the status quo. In fact, pick what clique you want, under Ballmer’s rule the tech giant has shown a penchant for not rocking the boat, not taking chances, and for keeping things copacetic, and while Nadella may be a strong choice and one of Microsoft’s own executive stars, he brings with him the one thing the company needed to divest itself of: its corporate identity.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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